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  1. Default Yosemite to Furnace creek - best scenic (and open) route?

    Hello!
    I've just discovered RTA, it's great!
    My friends and I have just booked our USA adventure, for the first 2 weeks of May, yay!
    After a stay in San Francisco, we'll be travelling to Yosemite (staying 1 night at El Portal). From here, we need to reach Furnace Creek, death valley. I checked distances online, and it would be roughly 8 hours passing through Fresno - but this would mean missing Yosemite completely! What can you suggest we drive instead, in order to enjoy the Park? I would have liked to see Mariposa grove, but it might be way out of the way. An alternative might be passing through Mammoth Lakes, driving the CA-120 - but I am not sure this will be open already? - and then the US 395. Is this total nonsense, or is it feasible? We've got a day to drive from Yosemite to death valley. Any advice is welcome!
    Thank you,
    Fran

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Small chance.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    There is not a lot of chance of CA120 being open in the first half of May or the other mountain passes to the North until CA88 which would really be to much in a day, leaving you the one option of heading South through Fresno and around Lake Isabella. The later in the trip you are in Yosemite the higher the chance of Tioga pass being open but it's still not great.

    I would get an early start from SF and head straight to Yosemite valley and spend some time exploring the area. From El Portal you could head down CA 41 to Oakhurst and make a quick stop at Mariposa Grove but get an early start and expect to be on the road for nearer to 10 hours.

    Here are the previous opening dates for Tioga Pass [CA120]

  3. Default

    Thank you for these precious indications!
    as we are at it, I'll ask another couple of questions :-)
    After death valley we are hitting Vegas, and then off to the Canyons. First stop would be Grand Canyon, staying in Grand Canyon village. I checked the road and from Vegas it says US93 then merging into I-40 - right? Is it worth it to stop off at the Skywalk, or would it just add quite some time to the journey?

    We are spending 2 nights in Grand Canyon, any suggestion on excursions we could do?
    Finally, off to Bryce - I guess the only route is the US 89 - is this correct?

    To wrap this up, a final question: can national park tickets be bought on site, as we are about to enter them? or is it advisable to buy them before getting there (online)? is there a ticket that includes entrance to multiple parks (in our case: Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon)?

    Thanks again for your help, I'm loving this forum!
    regards,
    Francesca

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Here goes.

    Yes, US93 over the Hoover dam [possible stop] to I40 is correct. You would have to make your mind up about 'Skywalk' but it is time consuming and costly plus part of the journey is on unmade and rough road which you can not take your rental car. A bus is available but more expense and time will be taken and simply put on your time schedule, it's not for me. You could drive part of Route 66 from Kingman through Seligman if you wanted to get off the Interstate and pick up a bit of '66 memorabilia.

    On night 1 you should be in GC in time for a walk around the rim trail and watch a Sunset near to the village area. Day 2 the free Shuttle bus will take you up to Hermits rest where you can have lunch and hop on and off at the various viewpoints and walk between some if you choose to do so. Next day drive along Desert view drive for more great views and leave by the East kiosk to US 89. If you have time stop at Cameron trading post for a look around, it's pretty cool.

    Ruby's Inn is a good location for Bryce and if you are driving to the far end of the Canyon stop at the viewpoints on the way back, the pull outs are all on your side of the road.

    If you live in the US you can buy an Annual pass for the National parks on line here, but you can buy them from the kiosk of the first park you visit [Yosemite] or if you find yourselves on Pier 39 in San Fran [you should, great fun and 'Bubba Gumps' is pretty good for food and beer !] the NPS has a small store up one of the stairways and you can purchase it there.

    Where to from Bryce ? Zion NP is also worth a visit if you are headed back to Vegas.

  5. Default

    That's great! this is getting better and better, thanks again for all these tips!
    After Bryce we are heading back to Vegas, we've got a flight to LA at 6.30pm. Is Zion on the way? Wasn't planning on visiting it, but if it's on the way, I don't see why not?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Times the issue.

    If you head back down US89 to UT9 you can travel up the Mount Carmel highway to Zion and then continue to I 15 back down to Vegas. You would need an early start and wouldn't have a lot of time to spare but if you have your Annual pass you could take the shuttle bus into the canyon and grab some pics. Allow at least 3 hours from Zion, plus plenty of time to drop off rental car and to get to check in. If you don't get time to stop it's still a great drive going through the Mount Carmel tunnel that way.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    can national park tickets be bought on site, as we are about to enter them? or is it advisable to buy them before getting there (online)? is there a ticket that includes entrance to multiple parks (in our case: Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon)?
    Yes, you can pay for park admission right when you get there, and that is really the best option.

    If you are planning to visit Yosemite, DV, GC, Bryce, and Zion, it would make sense to get it. You can get it when you arrive at your first park.

    There is a year long pass for all the parks in the National Park System. It costs $80, so it basically pays for itself after the 4th or 5th visit (different parks have different admission fees.)

  8. Default

    Hi and thank you both!
    Yes, I think we won't have time to visit Zion, it would be too much of a rush.
    Good to know about Mount Carmel tunnel - is it safe/easy to drive? would we have to pay the entrance fee to Zion if we drive this way? Alternatively, I saw we could drive through Cedar City (UT 14) and then take the I-15 from there - anything nice going that way?

    thanks!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    The only issue with the tunnel in Zion is if you are in an RV, and are "too tall" for it. In those cases, an escort is needed to drive down the middle where there is higher clearance.

    You wouldn't have to pay admission if you are just driving through, but if you are going to be that close to Zion, I'd find a way to spend at least a couple hours exploring the area.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I hate to disagree with you, Michael, but you do in fact have to pay the park admission fee. The $15 RV tunnel fee is in addition to that.

    UT-14 is a very nice option, but check first in case a late season snowstorm has the road closed or with chain restrictions. However, if you are on a time constraint the quickest way back to LV from Page is to take US-89 to Kanab, then Alt-89 south to Fredonia, then AZ-389/UT-59 west to Hurricane, then UT-9 to I-15. This is about 50 miles shorter and would save you over an hour.

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